Isaiah: New *Heavens and a New Earth

Isaiah Begins to *Prophesy

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Isaiah chapters 1 to 6

www.easyenglish.info

Gordon Churchyard

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

The words in brackets, [ … ], are not in the *Hebrew Bible. They make the book easier to understand in English. Isaiah wrote his book in the *Hebrew language.

 

About the Book of Isaiah

There are 66 chapters in Isaiah’s book. The book is easier to understand if we divide it into main sections. Below is one way to do it. Isaiah was a *prophet. A ‘prophet’ tells people what God is saying. The words ‘king’, ‘servant’ and ‘*messiah’ do not always mean the same people in Isaiah’s book. That often confuses people who read it. The notes will help to explain those things. A *messiah is a leader, like a king. However, Christians believe that Jesus is the special *Messiah, whom God sent. So he is the *Messiah, with a capital M!

We can divide Isaiah’s book into 5 main sections.

·    Chapters 1 to 5 – Isaiah describes the people that live in Judah and Jerusalem.

·    Chapter 6 – God makes Isaiah into a *prophet.

·    Chapters 7 to 40 – God’s king rules God’s people.

·    Chapters 41 to 55 – God’s servant saves God’s people.

·    Chapters 56 to 66 – God’s *messiah beats God’s enemies.

New *heavens and a new earth

People often ask, ‘Where do Christians go when they die? And where will they go when Jesus will return to the Earth?’

The Bible tells us the answers to those questions. When Christians’ bodies die, their spirits will go to Paradise. Christians believe that, because Jesus said it. He said it to the man that died next to him. Jesus said, ‘Today, you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43). Jesus also used other words to describe that place. In John 14:2, he called it ‘my Father’s house’. And in Matthew 5:12, he said that Christians would receive their reward ‘in heaven’. ‘Heaven’ is the place where God lives.

When Jesus returns to the Earth, Christians will come with him. ‘God will bring with him the people that sleep in Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 4:14). That means people that were trusting in Jesus at the time of their deaths.

After Jesus returns to the Earth, many wonderful things will happen. Here are two of them:

·    Every Christian will have a new body. God will make each dead body alive again. Those people’s spirits will not live in Paradise any longer. Their spirits will come back to their new bodies.

·    God will make the heavens and the Earth new. Here, ‘heavens’ means the place where God lives. And it also means everything in the skies. Christians will live on the New Earth in their new bodies. All the problems in our world will disappear.

There are many verses in the Bible that tell us about those things. But two books tell us more than the other books. One book is Revelation, in the New Testament (the last 27 books in the Bible). The other book is Isaiah, in the Old Testament (the first 39 books in the Bible). So, when we read the Book of Isaiah, we must remember these three things:

·    Isaiah writes about what is happening during his life.

·    Isaiah writes about what would happen in the future. He describes what would happen to Judah and Israel. And he describes what would happen to some other countries. They are the countries near Judah and Israel. Isaiah also writes about the time when Jesus would come to the Earth for the first time. This happened about 700 years after Isaiah lived.

·    Isaiah writes about the New Heavens and the New Earth. Those will come after Jesus will return to the Earth for the second time. Of course, this is still in the future.

 

Isaiah chapters 1 to 5: Isaiah describes the people that live in Judah and Jerusalem

We can divide the first main section of Isaiah into 4 smaller sections. That will help us to understand it.

 

Isaiah 1:2-9

 

Isaiah 1:10-20

Isaiah 2:6-21

Isaiah 1:21-31

Isaiah 2:22-4:1

Isaiah 5:1-30

The problems in their nation

The problems in their religion

The problems in their society

Punishment from God

In the notes, we can read what those three kinds of problems were. But Isaiah 2:1-5 and 4:2-6 are not about problems. They are about the ideal Jerusalem. They are good news! The best news is that God will change the heavens (the skies and the place where God lives). And he will change our Earth. He will make them new. He will do that when Jesus will return to the Earth. After Jesus has come back to the Earth, God’s people will live there!

Chapter 1

v1 Isaiah was the son of Amoz. This is what Isaiah ’saw’ (understood) about Judah and Jerusalem. He ‘saw’ [all this] while Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.

Notes

This verse is probably a title for the whole book.

When Isaiah ‘saw’ all these things, he also understood them. In other words, he understood what God was telling him. Isaiah was a *prophet. A ‘prophet’ does two things:

·    He tells people what God is saying about their world.

·    He tells people things that will happen in the future.

Another word for ‘prophet’ is ‘seer’. A seer is a ‘see-er’, someone that sees. He sees what things mean. In other words, he understands what they mean. Isaiah saw what was happening in Judah and Jerusalem. Most people only saw good and bad things happening. Isaiah did not just see those things. He also ‘saw’ why those good and bad things were happening. He heard what God was saying to him. Isaiah ‘saw’ what the future situation would be for Judah and Israel and the surrounding countries. He ‘saw’ what would happen during Jesus’ life. He also ‘saw’ the New Earth that God will make in the future!

Isaiah lived about 700 years before Jesus came to the Earth. We call that time 700 B.C.. ‘B.C.’ means ‘years Before Christ came to the Earth’. While Isaiah was alive, there were several kings of Judah. Below is a table, in other words, a box that contains several smaller boxes. Students use this sort of table to make facts very clear. This one contains the years when 5 kings of Israel ruled. All the dates are *B.C.. As you can see, Bible students do not agree about the exact dates.

 

 

Name of King

Date in David Rohl’s book called ‘A Test of Time’.

Date in ‘The Oxford Bible Atlas’

Date in Victor Buksbazen’s book called ‘The *Prophet Isaiah’.

Date in Alec Motyer’s book called ‘The Prophecy of Isaiah’.

Uzziah

767-739

773-736

791-740

Died 740

Jotham

739-731

736

750-735

740-732

Ahaz

731-715

736-721

731-715

732-715

Hezekiah

715-686

721-694

715-686

715-686

Manasseh

686-642

694-640

686-642

Started 686

 

Isaiah was born when Uzziah was the king. In 2 Kings 15:1, the writer spells Uzziah’s name ‘Azariah’. Isaiah probably died when Manasseh was the king. Uzziah was ill at the end of his life. So his son Jotham was king together with him. And after that, Uzziah’s grandson Ahaz was king together with Jotham.

‘Isaiah’ is an English form of the *Hebrew word ‘Jeshaejahu’. That means ‘the *LORD makes people safe’. ‘*LORD’ is a special name for God. It is not a direct translation of the *Hebrew word. It refers to the *Hebrew word YHWH. Bible students are not sure what YHWH really means. It may mean that God will never die. People that use the word *LORD should do these three things:

·    They should love God.

·    They should obey God.

·    They should serve God.

When people do those things, God also does something. He agrees to help those people. Also, he agrees to be their leader. Those people become ‘his people’. They belong to God. They will live on the New Earth when Jesus will return to the Earth.

Notice that the name ‘Jesus’ starts with the same letters as the *Hebrew name for Isaiah does. The *Hebrew word for Isaiah is ‘Jeshaejahu’ or ‘Yeshaeyahu’. In fact, we could translate both names as ‘The *LORD saves [his people].’ Both ‘Jesus’ and ‘Isaiah’ have the same meaning.

Isaiah’s father was Amoz. We know nothing about Amoz. He was not the same man as the *prophet Amos.

The *Jews were God’s people. Most of them lived in Israel. But some *Jews lived in Judah. Israel was on the north side of Judah. And it was much bigger than Judah. The capital of Israel was Samaria city and the capital of Judah was Jerusalem city. Assyria’s armies destroyed Israel in 722 B.C.. But Judah continued to exist as a nation until 586 B.C..

Isaiah ‘saw’ all these things while 4 different kings ruled over Judah. Those kings were Uzziah, then Jotham, then Ahaz and finally Hezekiah. Bible students are not sure exactly when Isaiah ‘saw’ the things in chapters 1-5. It may have been when Uzziah was alive. Or it may have been later. These chapters show us three things about the *Jews when Isaiah was alive. In Chapter 1, the writer emphasises these three things.

1) In Isaiah 1:2-9, we learn that the whole nation was not obeying God.

2) In Isaiah 1:10-20, we learn this. The people were not always sincere in their religion. (We see this problem also in Isaiah 2:6‑21).

3) In Isaiah 1:21-26, we learn about their moral attitude. It was not always good. (We see this problem also in Isaiah 2:22 to 4:1 and 5:1-30).

As we read Isaiah’s book, we must always remember those things. But we must also remember that Isaiah’s book contains a message of hope too. It is for those people who are sorry about their evil deeds. If they start to obey God, then God promises good things to them:

·    God promised to send his *Messiah to save his people.

·    God promised to make New *Heavens and a New Earth for his people.

The problems in the nation

v2 Skies, hear [the *LORD]! And earth, listen [to him], because the *LORD himself has spoken! [He has said], ‘I have looked after sons and I have brought them up. But they, [even] they, have fought against me.

v3 [The animal called] an ox knows his master. And [the animal called] a donkey knows where his owner feeds him. But [the people in] Israel do not know [their master]. My people do not understand [me].’

v4 Ah! You are a nation [of people] that are always doing wrong things. You are people that are guilty. [It is like] a load [that you] carry. You are [people’s] *descendants that are always doing evil things. [You are like] sons [that are becoming] really bad. They have gone away from the *LORD. They have hated the *Holy [God] of Israel. They have turned away, [so that] their backs [are towards him].

v5 [You] should [not let somebody] continue to hit you. You [should not] continue to fight against [God]. All your head has bruises [because of the fight]. All your heart is sick.

v6 From the sole (part underneath) of your foot to the top of your head, [your body] is not healthy. [There are] injuries and bruises and open sore places. [Nobody] has washed them, and nobody has put a bandage on them. And nobody has put *oil on them.

v7 [Enemies] ruined your country. They burned your cities with fire. Foreigners took everything away from your fields. They did it in front of you! Those strangers ruined [your land] and they destroyed [it].

v8 And they left the *Daughter of Zion alone, as a shed stands alone in a *vineyard. [The city and its people are] like a hut [where] melons (large fruits) [grow] in a field. They are like a city that has enemies all round it.

v9 The *LORD of Everything has left a few people among us alive. Unless he had done that, we would have become like Sodom [city]. We would have become like Gomorrah [city].

Notes

Verse 2 God’s message here is like a speech in a court. We must imagine that we are in a court of law. The *LORD says that his sons, in other words, the *Jews, are fighting against him. The *Jews were the people that lived in Israel and Judah. God had brought them up, but they did not obey him. The *LORD asks all things to listen to him. He asks all things to hear his speech. ‘Skies’ means everything above the Earth. That includes the place called heaven, where God lives. ‘Earth’ means everything in the Earth and on the Earth. God is speaking to everything that he has created in nature. He wants everything to hear him. He wants everything to listen to him. As in Psalm 50:4, ‘everything’ means ‘nature as a whole’.

Verse 3 An ox is like a cow, and a donkey is like a small horse. Even animals know who looks after them. The ox knows. And so does the donkey, although many people consider it a stupid animal! But the people in Israel do not realise what God has done for them. They do not realise it, because they really are too stupid.

‘Israel’ here may mean both countries, Israel and Judah. But if Isaiah wrote this verse after 722 *B.C., then it may mean only Judah. That is because the Assyrians (people from Assyria) destroyed Israel in 722 *B.C.. There are no dates in Isaiah chapters 1 to 5. To ‘know God’ means to live like a member of God’s family. It is to be one among his children (verse 2).

Verse 4 Isaiah was a *prophet. He was speaking for God. In the first part of the verse, he spoke directly. He spoke directly to the people. The people were becoming very bad. Their deeds were evil, so they were guilty. ‘Guilty’ means that they were responsible for their evil deeds. That responsibility was like a heavy load that they had to carry. God punishes people that are guilty. The words ‘nation’ and ‘people’ mean the people that lived in Judah and Jerusalem. So do the words ‘*descendants’ and ‘sons’ here. Notice that Isaiah often has 3 or 4 groups of things or people in a verse. It is part of his technique. The people were guilty because they had ‘gone away from the *LORD’. It means that they had not obeyed him. And the people had done something even worse. They had fought against the *LORD. The first word, ‘ah’, is ‘hoy’ in the *Hebrew language. We could translate it as ‘Hi!’ God wanted people to listen to him. God was asking for their attention.

The ‘Holy [God] of Israel’ is a special name for God. Isaiah used that name more than any other writer in the Bible. Isaiah used it 25 times. The other writers in the Old Testament (the first 39 books in the Bible) used it 7 times in total. Notice that the word for ‘God’ is not in the *Hebrew text here. The name is just ‘Holy’. It is Isaiah’s special name for God. Here, again, the ‘Holy [God] of Israel’ probably means the God of Judah. That would be true if Assyria’s armies had already destroyed the northern country, usually called Israel. Isaiah 6:3 probably shows us why Isaiah used that name ‘Holy’ to describe God. ‘Holy’ means ‘very, very good’. It means ‘so good that you are separate from everybody else’. Only God is really holy. When people ‘turn their backs’ towards God, they do not listen to him. They do not obey him. Those people do not really mean what they say in God’s house. They are not sincere in their religion.

Verse 5 The *Hebrew text of this verse actually starts with two questions. Firstly, ‘Why should somebody [an enemy] continue to beat you (hit you with a stick)?’ It probably means, ‘God has been using an enemy to punish you. Do not let God continue that.’ Secondly, ‘Why do you continue to fight against God?’ It probably means, ‘Do not fight. Then God will stop the enemy that is punishing you!’ Isaiah mentions the bruises where the stick had hit them. He means that they felt ill inside themselves (in their hearts). That is a description of the whole nation. It does not mean each person in it. In the same way as a person can be ill, a whole nation can be ill.

Verse 6 In this verse, we learn that the whole nation of people is sick. The verse describes the nation as if it were one person. Its foot is sick. Its head is sick. And every part of the nation’s body between those parts is sick. Probably, the ‘sole (part underneath) of its foot’ means the poor people. The ‘top of its head’ may mean the people in the government. And every part between those means everybody else. God is using an enemy to punish everybody. Nobody is helping them with medical care. In other words, nobody is helping the nation to recover from war. An enemy is still attacking them (verses 7-8). It means that Judah is not a safe place. The oil is not oil that people use for fuel. It comes from a fruit called the *olive. People used to put that oil on bruises. An ‘open sore place’ means ‘a sore place without a bandage’.

Verse 7 Here, we read about some results of wars. It was those wars that had hurt the people. In one war, the armies from Assyria destroyed Israel. Then those armies destroyed much of Judah too. But the armies did not destroy Jerusalem. The account about that is in Isaiah chapters 36 to 37.

Verse 8 So the armies left Jerusalem like a shed in a *vineyard. It was alone. There was no thing or person that could help its people. A ‘vineyard’ is a place where people produce *grapes. People use the small fruits called *grapes to make wine. A ‘melon’ is a fruit also. Here Jerusalem is called ‘Zion’, its old name. ‘The Daughter of Zion’ means the men and women that lived in that city. And it includes the people in Judah who lived near Jerusalem. Isaiah was a poet. ‘Daughter of Zion’ is poetry that means ‘people in Jerusalem’. Those people were all born in Jerusalem or they were born near it. So it was as if Jerusalem was their mother. The Bible often refers to cities as female. (Read Psalm 87 in the Easy English Psalms.)

Verse 9 God destroyed the cities called Sodom and Gomorrah because their inhabitants were very wicked. The account about that is in Genesis chapter 19. An idea that Isaiah often wrote about is ‘the few people among us’. In some translations, ‘the few people’ are called ‘the *remnant’. Those people loved God and they obeyed him. They still did that, even when nobody else did it. ‘*LORD of Everything’ is a special name for God. The *Hebrew word that we translate as ‘Everything’ may mean ‘angels’. An ‘angel’ is a servant of God in heaven. Heaven is the place where God lives. One English translation has ‘*LORD of Armies of *Angels’. Another translation has ‘*LORD that has all power’.

The problems in the people’s religion

v10 You rulers of Sodom [city], hear the words that the *LORD [is saying to you]! You people in Gomorrah [city], listen! Listen to what God is teaching [to] you!

v11 ‘All the [animals and] things that you burn for me do not matter,’ says the *LORD. ‘I do not want you to burn any more male sheep. Do not burn fat from animals that have eaten a lot. The blood of *bulls, young sheep or male goats does not please me.

v12 [Nobody] told you to walk all over the yards [round] my [*temple]. [You do that] whenever you come to appear in front of me.

v13 Do not offer to me things that mean nothing! When [you burn] *incense [to give honour] to me, the smell is awful! I do not like your meetings [at the time when the] moon [is] new. And [I do not like] your *Sabbaths. And your special meetings are evil!

v14 I hate your meetings [at the time when the] moon [is] new. And [I hate] your special meetings! They are like a heavy load to me. I do not want to carry it again!

v15 Whenever you lift your hands [for prayer], I will not look at you. Even if you say many prayers, I will not listen [to you]. There is blood on your hands!

v16 Wash [the blood from yourselves] and make yourselves clean! Remove the bad things that you do. [Do not do them], then I will not see them! Do not do evil things.

v17 Relearn to do what is right. Make sure that the courts of law give fair decisions and fair punishments. Remove the cruel person. Defend [the children] that have no father. Speak [in court] for the widow.’

Notes

In verses 2-9, Isaiah told the people that war had ruined their country. The account about that is in 2 Chronicles chapter 28. Now he tells them why God used an enemy to do it. There were two main reasons:

·    They were not sincere in their religion (Isaiah 1:10-20 and 2:6-21).

·    They did many wrong things (Isaiah 1:21-31 and 2:22-4:1).

Verse 10 Judah’s rulers are like the rulers of Sodom city were. And Judah’s people are like the people in Gomorrah city were. Isaiah describes the *Jews in that way to link this verse with verse 9. For us, verse 10 can mean anyone that does not obey God’s rules.

Verse 11 In their religion, the *Jews burned many things. They did that because God had told them to do it. We can read about that in the Book of Leviticus. The *Jews burned things because they wanted to make God happy. They burned animals such as male sheep, young sheep and *bulls. ‘The blood’ means that the people killed the animals. Then they burned them. This verse does not mean that their religion itself was wrong. But many people did not really mean what they were doing in their religion. They were not sincere about it. That is what was wrong.

In this verse, we have ‘says the *LORD’. The *Hebrew words really mean ‘the *LORD is always saying’. Only Isaiah uses those words, apart from Psalm 12:5. He uses those words in Isaiah 1:18, 33:10, 40:1, 40:25, 41:21 and 66:1. Perhaps Isaiah wrote Psalm 12 also!

Verse 12 The *Jews went to the *temple to burn things. They did that to give honour to God. They burned animals that they had killed. And they burned grain. The *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. Only God’s special servants, the priests, could go into the house of God. Everybody else could only go into the open areas round the *temple. In verse 12, ‘you come to appear in front of me’ means this. ‘You come and you burn things for me.’ The *Hebrew words for ‘[nobody] told you’ actually mean ‘who told you?’ The *Hebrew words for ‘walk over’ actually mean ‘put your feet down with force’.

Verse 13 Again, these things were not wrong, if people really meant them. But if people did not really mean them, then these things were wrong. Here, people did not mean them. They were not sincere in their religion. They had special meetings at the time when the moon was new (Ezekiel 46:3,6). And they had special meetings on the days called the Sabbath. The ‘Sabbath’ was the 7th day of their week. It was the same day as our Saturday. ‘Incense’ made a sweet smell when people burned it. The priests burned it during the ceremonies at the *temple.

Verse 14 This verse makes God seem like a man! He is tired because he has been carrying a heavy load. That heavy load means the religion of his people, the *Jews. The load is heavy because they are not sincere in their religion. Remember that God is not like a man. But God made man ‘like God’ (Genesis 1:26).

Verse 15 ‘There is blood on your hands’ may mean two things:

·    the blood of the animals that they burned. Those animals were male sheep, young sheep, *bulls and male goats.

·    the blood of people that they had murdered. The people were not sincere in their religion, because some of them murdered other people.

Verse 16 God wants his people not to do evil things any longer. The *Hebrew words mean that they do evil things ‘in front of his eyes’. That means that they do those things ‘in front of him’. Then he can see it easily. But he does not want to see it. He wants them not to do it.

Verse 17 God wants his people to do fair things. He wants them to obey the law. And he wants judges to give fair punishment to people that do not obey the law. Isaiah gives three examples of how to obey the law:

·    Remove the cruel person. Cruel and powerful people made poor and weak people work for them. The cruel, powerful people did not act fairly towards the weak people. They did not give fair wages to the weak people. They were unkind to the weak people.

·    Defend the children that have no father. That means young children whose father has died. God’s people must ‘be like a father’ to them.

·    Speak (in court) for the widow. In other words, make certain that widows have their rights. Widows’ rights are what the law gives them.

v18 ‘Come now,’ says the *LORD. ‘Let us reason together. Even if your *sins are like a bright red colour, they may become as white as snow. Even if they are like a deep red colour, they may become as [white as] wool.

v19 If you decide to obey [me], then you will eat the best things in [your] country.

v20 But if you refuse to obey me, an enemy will kill you with a sword!’ That is what the *LORD has said.

Notes

Verse 18 The word ‘reason’ makes us think again about a court of law. Read again the note about verse 2. *Sin means the wrong things that we do. People are guilty of *sin when they do not obey God’s laws. The colour of the *sin is the colour of the blood. Read verse 15 again. If we agree with God, our *sin will become white. It will become white like snow or like a sheep’s wool. The best sheep’s wool is white. The important thing about that is the change in colour. God can change us. *Sin is like dirt, because it spoils our lives. But when God has changed our lives, we will be clean, like new snow. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Verse 19 ‘Obey’ may mean ‘obey God’. Or it may mean ‘obey what God says in verse 17’. ‘Eat’ means more than to enjoy good food. It also means to enjoy everything. That means all the good things that we have in our life. It also means what God’s people will enjoy on the New Earth.

Verse 20 In verses 19 and 20, God is ‘playing with words’. That is, he uses the same word to mean two different things. The same *Hebrew word for ‘eat’ also means ‘kill’. So the *Hebrew words for ‘will kill you with the sword’ are actually ‘the sword will eat you’. Either you will eat the best things in your country (verse 19) or the sword will eat you (verse 20)! That is how God is ‘playing with words’. Although he uses the same word in verses 19 and 20, the meanings are different.

v21 [The *LORD says,] ‘Look at the people in the city! Before, they were loyal. But now, they have become like a prostitute (a woman that has sex for money)! Before, the city was full of people that did right things. Good people lived in it. Now, murderers live there.

v22 Your silver has become rubbish. Somebody has mixed your good wine with water.

v23 Your leaders do not obey me. They are the companions of thieves. Everybody loves a *bribe and everybody wants gifts. They do not defend children who have no father. They do not discuss what the widow wants. [They do not discuss it in a court of law.]’

v24 So this is what the *Lord says. He is the *LORD of Everything and [he is] the Strong God of Israel. [He says], ‘I will be very angry with my enemies, [the people in Judah]. I will punish the people that oppose me.

v25 I will fight against you. I will burn away the rubbish in you. [I will wash it away] as soap does. And I will take away everything that is not clean.

v26 I will give you back your judges, as you had them at the beginning. [That was at the beginning of your nation.] And [I will give] people [to you] to advise you. It was like that when [your nation] began. After that, people will call you “the City of Good People”. And they will call you “the City of Loyal People”.’

Notes

Verse 21 In the *Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem is called here ‘the loyal city’. Earlier, when their nation began, the people in that city had been loyal. They did the things that they had promised to God. That is what ‘loyal’ means. And also, they did what was fair. The people were good. Only God is completely good. God wants people to do good things. When people are good, they do those good things. But at the time when Isaiah was writing his book, people were not acting fairly. People were not loyal and they were not good. Murderers were living in Jerusalem.

In the *Hebrew Bible, writers often describe cities as female. So here, Isaiah refers to Jerusalem as ‘she’ or ‘her’. A woman called a ‘prostitute’ sells her body for the purpose of sex. She is not loyal to one man. Similarly, Jerusalem was not loyal to one God.

Verse 22 Silver is a valuable metal, as gold is valuable. But here Isaiah does not mean the silver that the people own. He means the people themselves. Before, they were fair and good, but now they are the opposite. (We have learned that from verse 21.) They are like wine that was good before. But now it has no value, because somebody has mixed it with water.

Verse 23 The leaders do not obey God. People give them *bribes (money or gifts to persuade them to do bad things). Because of the *bribes, the leaders do what those people want. And those people want the opposite of God’s law. Everybody wants gifts in that way. It means that they will do anything for money. Or maybe they will do it for something that is valuable. Some children have no father, because their fathers are dead. Those children cannot pay the *bribes, and neither can the widows. So the leaders refuse to do what is fair and right to assist them. ‘What the widow wants’ refers to the law. The law orders that she should have certain things. Today, we call that ‘her rights’.

Verse 24 There are several names for God here:

·    The *Lord. This means that he is the master over everything. He has authority.

·    The *LORD of Everything. The note about verse 1 explained that ‘*LORD’ is a special name for God. But ‘*LORD of Everything’ is another special name. Read the note about verse 9.

·    The Strong God of Israel. In some translations, this is ‘the Mighty God of Israel’. ‘Mighty’ means ‘very, very powerful’. There is a similar name for God in Genesis 49:24, Isaiah 49:26 and Isaiah 60:16. But it does not appear anywhere else in the Old Testament (the first 39 books in the Bible).

In this verse, God’s enemies are his own people, the *Jews. They are his enemies because they have not obeyed him.

Verse 25 In verses 25 and 26, ‘you’ means Jerusalem. God speaks as if he is speaking to the city. His message is to the *Jews, especially the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Here, the *Hebrew words mean ‘I will turn my hand against you’. That usually means ‘I will fight against you’. Until now, God has helped the *Jews. But now he will fight against the bad things that they do. There are two special descriptions here. They show us what God will do:

·    He will burn away the rubbish, as people burn rubbish away from metals to make the metals pure.

·    He will wash away the dirt, as people wash away dirt with soap. That will take away everything that is not clean. It will remove everything that makes the *Jews bad people.

Verse 26 When the people are clean (verse 25), then the city and the nation will be clean. God will give their judges back to them. And he will give their other leaders back to them. It will be the same as when David was king 300 years before. At that time, the judges decided who had done right things. And they decided who had done wrong things. They also decided what punishment bad people should have.

v27 When the people in Zion (Jerusalem) act fairly, that will *redeem them. The people there that *repent will become very good.

v28 But some people will fight [against God] and they will not obey [him]. [An enemy] will defeat them together. Also, some people will go away from the *LORD. [An enemy] will kill [them with a sword].

v29 But you will be ashamed of the trees called oaks that gave you delight. Also, you will be very ashamed of the gardens that you have chosen.

v30 Actually, you will be like an oak tree whose leaves die. And [you will be] like a garden without water.

v31 Strong people will become as weak as cotton. Their work will be just a flash [of light]. [Fire] will burn the people and it will burn their work. Nobody will put out the fire.

Notes

Verse 27 ‘Redeem’ means ‘buy back’. A member of someone’s family could ‘redeem’ that person (buy the person back) from a difficult situation. There is a special note about ‘redeem’ for Isaiah 43:1. When the people in Zion (Jerusalem) are fair, they will ‘buy back’ their city from evil enemies. But God will help them to do that. He will help them after they repent. When people ‘repent’, they are sorry. They are sorry that they have not obeyed God. Also, they promise to obey him now. And they promise to obey him in the future. Only God is really very, very good. But he can make his people very good too.

Verse 28 Someone will defeat the people that do not obey God. And someone will kill those people. In this verse, we do not learn who will do this. But somewhere else in Isaiah’s book, he tells us who it will be. It will be the armies from Assyria. (Look at Isaiah 10:5-7.)

Verse 29 The oak tree is a large, strong tree. Its leaves die in the winter and then they fall off. But it grows new leaves again in the spring. The people considered that it was like life after death. So the oak tree was a special tree in old religions. That was true in Canaan. Canaan was the name of Israel before the *Jews lived in that country. But the *Jews kept some religion from old Canaan, and that included the oak trees. They made God angry because they praised false gods by the oak trees. Instead, the *Jews should have praised only the real God. The same was true about their gardens. The *Jews praised false gods in the gardens. But they should have praised only the real God. The oak trees became sacred things for the *Jews. And so did the gardens. People consider something as ‘sacred’ when it has a special connection with their religion. ‘You will be ashamed’ means that God will punish the people.

Verse 30 This was their punishment. They would die, just like a garden that has no water!

Verse 31 Some people’s translation for ‘as weak as cotton’ is ‘something that burns easily’. Bible students are not certain which is correct. But they are sure that nothing can stop God’s fire (in other words, his punishment). God sends his fire when he is angry!

Something to do

1. Study Isaiah 1:21-26. It is a special kind of poetry, because it follows a pattern. We show the pattern here by means of capital letters and numbers.

A1 The city’s people were not still loyal (in verse 21a).

       B1 There were no good judges (in verse 21b).

                   C1 Everything with value had become rubbish (in verse 22).

                               D1 Rulers on earth were bad (in verse 23).

                               D2 But God in heaven is the real ruler (verse 24).

                   C2 God will burn the rubbish away (verse 25).

       B2 There will be good judges again (verse 26a).

A2 The city’s people will be loyal again (verse 26b).

(The small letters after the verse numbers show the parts of the verses. For example verse 21a is the first part of verse 21, and 21b is the last part.)

Notice that A1 and A2 are about the city’s loyal people. B1 and B2 are about judges. C1 and C2 are about rubbish. And D1 and D2 are about rulers. This type of poetry is called an inclusio. There are very many inclusios in Isaiah’s book. And there are also many inclusios in the Book of Psalms.

2. When we read Isaiah chapter 1, we can imagine a court of law. In that court, God is the judge. Now read Psalm 50. There, too, we can imagine a court of law where God is the judge.

3. Read Isaiah 1:18-20. Then learn it. Try to say it while you are not looking at the words.

4. Isaiah says several important things in his book:

·    God is the real ruler of the world. People are not its real rulers.

·    God will punish bad people, even his own people.

·    God will be good to people that *repent.

·    There will always be a few people that love God. They will continue to serve God.

Look at each thing in the list above. In Isaiah chapter 1, find a verse where we read about each thing.

5. Read 2 Kings chapters 15 to 20. The events in those chapters happened when Isaiah was alive.

Chapter 2

v1 This is what Isaiah, the son of Amoz, ‘saw’ (understood) about Judah and Jerusalem.

Notes

In the note about Isaiah 1:1, we have explained that the word ‘saw’ in Isaiah often means ‘understood’. Really, the original meaning of the *Hebrew word was this. It meant ‘to split [something] open in order to see what is inside’. It is what you would do with a nut. You would break the shell to find the nut inside. Isaiah saw the things that were happening in his country. But he did not just look at the outside of those things. He ‘saw’ inside things. He ‘saw’ what they meant. He understood history.

This verse here (Isaiah 2:1) probably refers to Isaiah 2:2 to 4:6. Nearly all of that passage is about Jerusalem. It contains three descriptions of Jerusalem:

·    Jerusalem as God would like it to be (Isaiah 2:2-5).

·    Jerusalem as it was in Isaiah’s time (Isaiah 2:6 to 3:26).

·    Jerusalem as it would be when God saved his people (Isaiah 4:2-6).

Hope for the people that trust in God

v2 This is what will happen in the last times. The mountain, where the house of the *LORD is, will be permanent. It will be the chief one among the mountains. It will be higher than the hills [round it. People from] every country will flow towards it.

v3 And people [from many countries] will come. And they will say, ‘Come! Let us go to the mountain of the *LORD. Let us go to the house of Jacob’s (Israel’s) God. Then he (God) will teach us his ways, so that we can walk in his paths.’ So, the rules [that God made] will go out from Zion (Jerusalem). The *LORD’s message will go out from Jerusalem.

v4 [God] will be the judge between the nations. He will say who [is right. And he will say] who is wrong. They will hammer their swords to make parts of ploughs. And they will hammer their *spears to make knives [with which] to *prune plants. Nations will not attack other nations with swords, and neither will they learn how to fight again.

v5 Family of Jacob, come and let us walk in the *LORD’s light.

Notes

A section about religion in Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:6-21) follows these verses. But here in verses 2-5, we read about the ideal Jerusalem. It is what God wants Jerusalem to be. It will be like this when Jesus returns to the Earth. The New Jerusalem will be on the New Earth. God’s people will live there. Then in Isaiah 2:6-21, Isaiah describes the time when he himself was alive. He tells us what religion in Jerusalem was really like then. In chapter 4, Isaiah adds the promise that one day the ideal Jerusalem will exist. It is typical of Isaiah that he reminds people about God’s promises. God promised a New Jerusalem on a New Earth.

Micah 4:1-4 is very similar to Isaiah 2:2-5. Bible students are not sure who wrote the words first. Perhaps both *prophets used words from a popular poem.

Verse 2 For ‘last times’, the *Hebrew text actually has ‘last days’. ‘In the last times’ probably means ‘in the future’. It does not have to mean ‘at the end of the world’. It describes what Isaiah believed. These things would happen one day. Christians believe that they will happen at the time of Jesus’ return to the Earth. The house of the *LORD was the *temple in Jerusalem. It was on a hill (small mountain) called Zion. That was not the highest hill, but it was the most important hill. ‘[People from] every country’ means people that are not *Jews. The *Jews were God’s people, who lived in Judah and Israel. Here ‘flow’ is a way to say ‘go’. Very many people will go. So it will be like a river of people! It will be like a river that flows up the hill called Zion! Some Christians believe that this is a special way to describe the New Earth. People from every country will come to the New Jerusalem.

Verse 3 ‘The mountain of the *LORD’ means ‘the place where people will find the *LORD’. ‘The house of Jacob’s [Israel’s] God’ is the *temple in Jerusalem. ‘Jacob’ here is a name for the *Jews, as well as for Jacob himself. Here Isaiah compares a person’s life to a journey along a path. ‘His ways’ means the things that God wants people to do. ‘Walk in his paths’ means ‘obey God’s rules’. ‘The rules that God made’ means the same as ‘the *LORD’s message’. They both mean the things that God wants people to do. Isaiah does not tell us how the message will go out from Jerusalem. Probably God’s servants, the priests and the *prophets, will tell people what God is saying. But notice that God’s laws will go ‘out from Zion (Jerusalem)’. They will go out to the whole world! This is what Christians are doing today. They are declaring God’s message across the world. But when Jesus returns to the Earth, that will happen on the New Earth!

Verse 4 This verse continues from verse 3, which refers to God as the maker of laws. So here God acts as the judge. He says which nation is right or wrong. He makes that decision. At that time, people will change the things that they used to fight with. They will use the metal to make objects that will help them to produce food in their fields. A ‘spear’ is a long stick with a sharp point at its end. Or it is a knife with a very long handle. When a gardener ‘prunes’ a plant, he cuts part of it off. Then the plant grows better. Ploughs are tools that people use on a farm. And so are knives with which to *prune plants. Instead of war, there will be peace. Today, Isaiah would probably say ‘guns’ and ‘bombs’ instead of ‘swords’ and ‘*spears’. Some bombs contain a chemical called ‘potassium nitrate’, which would actually make plants grow better!

Verse 5 In verses 5 and 6, the *Hebrew text actually has ‘house of Jacob’. It means ‘family of Jacob’, Jacob’s *descendants. In other words, they were the people in Judah and Israel, also called the ‘*Jews’. ‘Walk’ means ‘do things’. It means how we behave. ‘Light of the *LORD’ probably means ‘what the *LORD teaches’. In some other verses, we can see that the ‘light of the *LORD’ does have that meaning. They include Psalms 4:6-7, 36:9-10 and 119:105.

The problems of religion in Judah and Israel

v6 But you, [*LORD], have gone away from your people, who are the family of Jacob. [You have gone away] because they are full [of magic. The magic comes from countries in] the east. They have *soothsayers, as the people in Philistia [have them]. Also, they shake hands with foreigners.

v7 Their country is full of silver and gold and they have many valuable things. Their country is full of horses and they have many chariots (carts that soldiers ride in).

v8 Images that are worth nothing fill their country. [They] have made [those] things [with] their hands. [Then] they bend down on their knees in front of [them]. [They] have made [them with] their own fingers. [And] they go down on their knees in front of [them].

v9 So, [the *LORD] makes people humble and everyone becomes low! [*LORD], do not lift them up again!

Notes

Verse 6 God has gone away from his people because they are doing wrong things. Now Isaiah starts to make a list of those wrong things. The words in the *Hebrew Bible mean, ‘They are full from the east.’ It does not say what they are full of! But Bible students think that it means this. ‘The country is full of magic. The magic comes from countries in the east.’ God’s rules do not allow people to do magic. The Philistines were a group of people that lived in Philistia. Philistia was west from Jerusalem. People called soothsayers use magic to discover what will happen in the future. ‘Shake hands with’ here means ‘agree with’. The *Jews did not ask God to help them. Instead, they asked people from other countries to help them. ‘Shake hands with foreigners’ may mean ‘agree with religions from the east and west’.

Verse 7 Bible students ask a question about this verse, and they are not sure about the answer. The question is this. ‘Why were the *Jews wealthy when they agreed with foreigners?’ Perhaps they traded with foreigners and that made the *Jews wealthy. Also, the *Jews’ army was strong, with many horses and chariots. ‘Chariots’ were carts that horses pulled. Soldiers rode in the chariots. In 1 Kings 10:28, we read that King Solomon bought horses from Egypt.

Verse 8 The writer is ‘playing with words’ here, so that one word makes you think about another word. There is one *Hebrew word for ‘images that are worth nothing’. And it is very like the *Hebrew word for God. Perhaps we should translate that word as ‘gods’ (with a small letter g). Such gods are worth nothing! The people themselves have made those images of gods. The images are not the real God. The people are wrong to bend down on their knees in front of them.

Verse 9 Here the writer is ‘playing with words’ again. Look again at verse 8. There, people bent down low on their knees in front of their images. But here, it is God that makes the people humble and low. They will not be important or powerful. God will make them the opposite. Isaiah prays that God will not lift them up again. ‘Lift them up again’ means ‘make them important and powerful again’.

v10 Go into [the holes in] the rocks. And hide in the ground. [Hide] because you are afraid. [You are afraid] of what the *LORD [will do. And hide] from his great power, which can frighten [people].

v11 [The *LORD] will stop the way that proud people look at other people. And [he will make] very proud people humble. At that time, only the *LORD will be important. He will be more important than anyone else.

v12 Yes! The *LORD of Everything will choose a time. Then, [at that time, the *LORD] will make humble everyone that is proud. [He will make humble everybody that is] very proud and important.

v13-16 [At that time, the *LORD will be] against all these things:

·    the high, very tall trees called cedars in Lebanon

·    the trees called oaks in Bashan

·    the very high mountains

·    the high hills

·    high towers (tall, strong buildings)

·    strong walls

·    boats from Tarshish

·    beautiful ships.

v17 [The *LORD] will stop the way that proud people look at other people. And he will make very proud people humble. At that time, only the *LORD will be important. [He will be] more important than anyone else.

v18 And every *idol will disappear.

Notes

Verse 10 Isaiah tells bad people to hide from God, because God will punish them. We can also translate the *Hebrew words for ‘his great power, which can frighten’ more exactly as ‘his glorious majesty’. ‘Majesty’ is a quality that a king has. It is ‘glorious’, which means ‘very wonderful’. In the verses above, we read about magic (verse 6), money (verse 7) and armies (verse 7). We also read about false religion (verse 8). Verse 10 means that those things cannot protect people from God’s power. That is why God’s power frightens people. God made people out of earth (Genesis 2:7). Now people will go back to the ground.

Verse 11 The *Hebrew words for ‘the way that proud people look’ mean ‘the eyes of proud man’. The word ‘man’ here means all men and women, so our translation has ‘people’. These people will have to become humble. In other words, everyone will see that these people are bad and unimportant. They will see that really these people are not good or important.

Verse 12 In verses 11 and 12, the *Hebrew word that the writer uses for ‘time’ can also mean ‘day’. Many Bible students call this time that the *LORD chooses ‘the Day of the *LORD’. Such a time has often happened in the past, but one day it will happen for the last time. Very proud and important people think that they are very special. But God does not think that they are special! The ‘*LORD of Everything’ is a special name for God. Some Bible students translate it ‘*LORD of Armies of Angels’. An ‘angel’ is a servant of God. Angels live in heaven (God’s home). There are very many angels. They continue to do God’s work on the Earth also, although we cannot see them.

Verses 13-16 The trees called ‘cedars’ in Lebanon (a country north from Israel) were special. Cedar trees are large and they are very beautiful. Their leaves do not fall off in winter. But the leaves of the trees called ‘oaks’ fall off in winter. People made *idols (false gods) from the oak trees in Bashan. Those people also thought that gods lived in tall mountains and very high hills. People build tall, strong buildings in order to show their own strength. We call these buildings ‘towers’. Guards could watch from them, so high towers made cities safe. And so did strong walls. Boats from Tarshish (in Spain) were important for trade. And so were other ships.

God is against everything that people were thinking about because of all the things in the list. Those things made people think about false gods, war and trade. Trade may be good. But it is not good if it helps false gods and war.

Verse 17 This verse is similar to verse 11. The *Hebrew word here for ‘time’ can also mean ‘day’.

Verse 18 An ‘idol’ may be a picture of a false god. Or it may be a false god that people have made from wood or stone. The *Hebrew words for ‘idol’ and ‘God’ are similar to each other. But the *Hebrew word for ‘idol’ does not mean ‘God’. It means ‘no god’. Idols are really ‘no-gods’! They are ‘no good’!

v19 And [people] will run to caves in the rocks. [They will] also [run] to holes in the ground. [They will run] because they are afraid of the *LORD. [They will run] from his great power because it frightens them. [They will run] when he comes to shake the Earth.

v20 At that time, people will throw away their *idols [that they made from] silver. And [they will throw away] their *idols [that they made from] gold. The people made [those *idols] in order to *worship them. [But they will throw them all] to small animals called rats and bats.

v21 Then people will run to caves in the rocks. And [they will run] to holes in mountains’ [sides. They will run] because they are afraid of the *LORD. [They will run] from his great power because it frightens them. [They will run] when he comes to shake the Earth.

Notes

Verse 19 People will do what Isaiah said in verse 10. God will ‘shake the Earth’. In other words, he will do something big that everybody knows about. At the start of verse 19, the *Hebrew words just mean ‘they will run’. Perhaps ‘they’ means the *idols in verse 18. Or perhaps it means the people that made the *idols.

Verse 20 The *Hebrew word for ‘time’ here can also mean ‘day’. Silver and gold are valuable metals. People made *idols from them. People ‘worshipped’ those *idols. In other words, they loved the *idols and they praised them. And they thought that the *idols were wonderful! But when the *LORD does something big, people will throw away their *idols. They will throw them to the rats and to the bats. ‘Rats’ are like large mice. They live in holes in the ground. They bring diseases to people. ‘Bats’ are like mice that can fly. They fly at night. As in verse 18, the *Hebrew word for *idol means ‘no god’!

Verse 21 The note about verse 10 shows what ‘his great power’ means. For ‘shake the earth’, read the note about verse 19.

v22 Do not [trust] in people. They breathe through their noses! They do not have very much value.

Notes

Verse 22 People breathe through their noses because God made them like that. They only breathe while God allows them to breathe. The *Hebrew Bible actually has a question here, ‘What value do they have?’ The answer to the question is probably: ‘They are not as great as God!’ So, Isaiah tells us not to trust in people. They have no value in themselves only. We may ask, ‘If people cannot help you, who can?’ The answer is ‘God’! This verse really starts the next section about bad leaders (Isaiah 3:1-8).

Something to do

1. Read more about the light of the *LORD. You can read about it in Psalms 4:6-7, 36:9-10 and 119:105.

2. Make the words in Isaiah 2:2-4 into a prayer. Use them to pray for peace in our world. Use them when you think about the New Earth.

3. Compare true, good religion (Isaiah 2:2-5) with false, bad religion (Isaiah 2:6-9). To do that, use the arrangement of boxes below.

 

Good Religion

Bad Religion

The people in the world come to God and his people, 2:2.

God’s people go to the world and its gods, 2:6.

The world’s people look for God’s rules by which to live, 2:3.

God’s people want money and goods, 2:7.

The world’s people come to God and there is peace, 2:4.

God’s people gather together things to make war, 2:7.

The world’s people come to the one real God, 2:3.

God’s people make their own false gods, 2:8.

God says who is right. Also, he says who is wrong, 2:4.

God does not forgive people with bad religion, 2:9.

Chapter 3

The problems of society in Judah and Israel

v1 I will show you what the *Lord, the *LORD of Everything, [will do]. He will remove from Jerusalem and Judah everything that supports them. [He will take away] all their supplies of food and of water.

v2-3 [He will take away these people:]

·    the strong man and the soldier

·    the judge and the *prophet

·    the *soothsayer and the older [leader]

·    the captain of 50 [soldiers] and the very important man (3)

·    the person that advises [people] and the skilled workman

·    the person that uses magic.

v4 ‘And I, [the *LORD], will make boys their leaders and children will rule over them.’

v5 The people will be very cruel to each other. Man [will be] against man. Man [will be] against his neighbour. Young people will insult older people, and bad people will insult honourable people.

v6 Then a man will seize his brother in his father’s house [and he will try to persuade his brother. The man will say], ‘You have a coat. Therefore, you can be our leader! Then you can rule these piles of stones that used to be buildings!’

v7 [But] at that time [the brother] will refuse. He will say, ‘I cannot help! There is no food and no coat in my house. Do not make me a leader of people.’

v8 [That will happen because the leaders of] Jerusalem and Judah have tripped over. Then they have fallen down. Their words and actions are against the *LORD. They have insulted his wonderful *glory.

v9 The look on their faces shows what they are really like. They are clearly sinners (people that do wrong things), like the [people in] Sodom [city were]. They do not hide it. It is so sad! They have brought great trouble to themselves.

Notes

Remember that this section actually starts with Isaiah 2:22. There, Isaiah tells his people not to hope that men can help them. Here, he tells them some results of bad government. He continues to tell those things in all this section until Isaiah 4:1. Society is sick (Isaiah 1:23). Therefore, those things will happen. Some things may have happened already.

Verses 1-3 The word *Lord means ‘master’. The word *LORD is the special name for God that only his people use. There is a note about that under Isaiah 1:1. God will take away from his people what they need. When enemies come, there will be little food and water. Or there will be absolutely none. But Isaiah does not only mean food and water. He also means those that give food and water to the people. He means their leaders. Isaiah gives a list of those leaders. Some leaders are good, but some other leaders are not good. People called ‘soothsayers’ use magic to discover what will happen in the future.

Real *prophets bring messages from God. But in Judah there were also false *prophets, who told lies. When his people obey him, God sends good leaders. But the people in Judah had not obeyed God, so he decided to take the good leaders away. The list gives one example of each type of leader. However, Isaiah probably meant many people of each type.

Verse 4 Instead of good leaders, the people would have bad leaders. The leaders would have no experience, so God called them boys and children. Perhaps ‘boys’ meant young kings as well as other leaders. In 2 Kings 21:1, we read this. ‘Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king.’ Manasseh was king after Hezekiah. Hezekiah was a good king, but Manasseh was a bad king. Many Bible students think that Manasseh killed Isaiah.

Verse 5 The result will be that people do not obey the laws of their country. Instead, they will do whatever they like. People will be cruel to each other.

Verse 6 Some Bible students translate ‘seize’ as ‘ask’. But it means more than ‘ask’. It means ‘try to persuade’. Because the brother has a coat, people consider him as rich. Therefore he can be the leader of the group. Many silly things like that will happen, and Isaiah gives it as an example. An enemy probably destroyed the people’s buildings, so that now they are just a pile of stones.

Verse 7 The *Hebrew word here for ‘time’ can also mean ‘day’. Some Bible students translate the *Hebrew word for ‘help’ differently. They translate it as ‘cure’. They consider that society is sick. So it needs someone to cure it. In the *Hebrew Bible, ‘help’ here is the same word as in Isaiah 1:6. There we translated it as ‘put a bandage on’.

Verse 8 The *LORD reminded people why he was doing all that. He would take the leaders away because the people and leaders did not obey God. He would give worse leaders to the people, or he would give no leaders. God’s ‘*glory’ is part of what makes him great. It means that he is very wonderful. He shines brighter than the sun because of his *glory! In the *Hebrew Bible, ‘his wonderful *glory’ is actually ‘the eyes of his *glory’. It means that he can see all his people’s wrong deeds.

Verse 9 ‘Sinners’ are people that do not obey God’s rules. In other words, they *sin. And it is even worse here, because they were not ashamed about their *sin. They did not even try to hide their *sin! Their *sin may not have been the same as what the people in Sodom city did. Perhaps it was worse. But as in Sodom, there would be terrible punishment. The word ‘Sodom’ links this section with Isaiah 1:9 (problems in the nation). It also links it with Isaiah 1:10 (problems in religion).

v10 ‘Tell the good people that things will be well for them. They will enjoy the benefits of the good things that they have done.

v11 The wicked person will be very sad. He will have great trouble. [Here is the reason.] What he has done [to other people] will happen to him.

v12 Children are cruel to my people and women rule over them. My people, your leaders have not led you well. They have led you away from the [right] paths.’

v13 The *LORD stands up [in court] to accuse [his enemies]. He stands up as a judge over nations.

v14 The *LORD comes as judge over his people’s advisers. [He comes as judge] over leaders. [That is, anyone that leads other people. He accuses them that] they burned the *vineyard. Also, they kept what they stole from the poor people.

v15 The *Lord, who is the *LORD of Everything, asks [these things]:

·    ‘Why do you beat my people into pieces?

·    Why do you walk on the faces of the poor people?’

Notes

Verse 10 Some Bible students translate the beginning of the verse like this. ‘Happy are the good people, because things will be well for them.’ In order to do that, they make a small change in one *Hebrew word. Good people are people that obey God’s rules. Really, only God is very good. However, he considers people that try to obey him as good also.

Verse 11 The *Hebrew text actually has ‘What his hands have done’. It means ‘What he has done’, as people often use their hands to do things.

Verse 12 ‘My people’ means the people that live in Israel and Judah. And that includes the inhabitants of Judah’s capital, Jerusalem city. Children make trouble in order to get what they want. Verse 16 shows us the *sins of the women in Jerusalem and Judah. And verses 17-26 show us the results of those *sins. The right paths mean the things that people should do to obey God’s laws.

Verse 13 This verse describes something similar to what chapter 1 describes. We must imagine that we are in a court of law. Isaiah reminds us that God is like the judge in the court. God’s enemies are the people that he accuses. He says that they do not obey his rules. Here, however, God is a judge over nations. That means everybody, not just the *Jews. All this may be in the future. However, Isaiah sees it as if it is in the present. He is very sure that it will happen!

Verse 14 A *vineyard is a field where people grow *grapes. They use the *grapes to make wine. In Leviticus 19:9-10 and Deuteronomy 24:21, we learn this. When people picked *grapes, they had to leave some for the poor people. For that reason, people should not burn their *vineyards when they had picked their grapes. But here, they burned the *vineyard and also they stole *grapes from the poor people. This verse may mean something else also. In the Bible, a *vineyard is sometimes a description of God’s people, both Israel and Judah. ‘Burned the *vineyard’ may mean ‘destroyed Israel and Judah’. The army from Assyria would destroy Israel in 722 B.C. And the army from Babylon would destroy Judah in 587 B.C. (‘B.C.’ means ‘years Before Christ came to the Earth’.) However, the *prophet Isaiah is saying here that Israel and Judah would really destroy themselves. That was because they did not obey God’s rules.

Verse 15 The *LORD asks questions at the end of this section. Both questions probably mean ‘You are very unkind to the poor people in Judah’. Those poor people may possibly be the good people in verse 10. In that verse, we see that things will be well for good people. However, God’s enemies are often unkind to them.

v16 The *LORD says, ‘The *Daughters of Zion are very proud. They stretch up their necks when they walk. They glance to see [whether the men are noticing them]. They walk [so that men look at them]. The little bells on their ankles make a sound as they walk.

v17 Therefore the *Lord will make sore places on their heads. The *LORD will make their heads bald.

v18-23 At that time, the *Lord will take away the fine *jewellery that they wear. [Those things are] on their ankles, heads, necks, ears, arms, fingers and noses. He will take away their fine clothes and belts. [He will take away] their perfumes (substances that smell nice). And [he will take away their] charms (objects to prevent bad luck).

v24 Instead of perfume (a substance with a good smell), there will be a bad smell. Instead of a belt, there will be a rope (very thick string). Instead of fine hair, they will be bald. Instead of good clothes, [they will wear] rough hairy clothes. Instead of beauty, there will be only shame.

v25 Swords will kill your men. Your strong men will die in battle.

v26 And the [leaders at the] gates [of Zion (Jerusalem)] will be sad. And they will cry. The people in Zion (Jerusalem) will sit on the ground. [The city will be] empty.’

Notes

Verses 16-17 ‘The Daughters of Zion’ can mean two things:

·    The young women that live in Zion. Zion is another name for Jerusalem.

·    The small towns and cities that are round Jerusalem. In other words, all the people that live in Judah.

In the first case, verse 16 means this. The young women in Jerusalem behave so that they attract the men. In the second case, it means that everybody is behaving in a very proud way. They want people to see that they are important. Also, they want people to see that they are very attractive. But God will do two things to them. Both these are things that show shame. Firstly, he will ‘make their heads bald’. But Bible students are not sure exactly what this phrase means here. It may also mean ‘show everybody the secret parts of their (those proud people’s) bodies’. Those are the parts that they use for sex. Enemies used to do those things to people when they caught people as prisoners.

Verses 18-23 Isaiah gives a long list of the things that the *Lord will take away from those women. Bible students are not sure what some *Hebrew words mean here. Most are things that make women look beautiful. ‘Jewellery’ means small objects that people wear to make them look beautiful. Those objects often contain valuable stones, such as diamonds. ‘Charms’ are objects that people use in magic. They wear those objects in order to keep away bad luck. The women wore such things on all the different parts of their bodies. ‘Perfumes’ were substances that made them smell nice.

Here is a possible list of what those things may have been:

·    verse 18: *jewellery on their ankles; bands round their heads, and small crowns;

·    verse 19: *jewellery that hung round their necks, and jewels (precious stones) on their arms; veils (pieces of cloth that cover the face);

·    verse 20: fine hats; bands round their arms; pretty belts; perfumes (substances to make people smell nice); and charms (magic objects to keep away bad luck);

·    verse 21: rings on their fingers, and rings in their noses;

·    verse 22: fine dresses and skirts; coats and purses;

·    verse 23: clothes that you can see through; clothes with good quality; the clothes included hats and veils (cloths to cover the face).

The ‘bands round their heads’ may be pretty hats. The ‘bands round their arms’ may be pretty material on their arms. The *LORD will take away all those things from those women. They will have nothing. They will be naked and someone will shave their heads (verses 16-17). If the ‘*Daughters of Zion’ means the towns and cities round Jerusalem, they will lose everything. Probably both meanings are true. Many Bible verses mean more than one thing, especially in Isaiah’s book. Notice that Isaiah does not say that those beautiful things are bad. Rather, the proud way in which the people wore them was wrong.

Verse 24 When an army won a battle, they took people away. They put a rope (very thick string) round them to lead them away. So this verse means that a foreign army would defeat the people in Judah. The women would be bald because their enemies would shave the women’s heads. That was something that showed shame. Then the women would not be beautiful; they would be ugly. The *Hebrew word for ‘shame’ probably means ‘a mark that an enemy burns onto people’.

Verse 25 Not only the women will suffer, but so will the men. The enemies will take the women away, but they will kill the men. So, both the meanings of ‘*Daughters of Zion’ are true! (Look at the note about verse 16.)

Verse 26 The *Hebrew text has ‘The gates will be sad’. The leaders of a town used to meet together at the town’s gates. So the text means that the leaders of the town will be sad. That is, if any leaders remain. The enemies will take most people away. They will leave only a few people. The *Hebrew text has ‘Zion will sit on the ground.’ But in this verse, Zion does not mean the buildings in Jerusalem. It means the people in that city. It also means the people in towns and cities round Jerusalem.

Chapter 4

v1 In those days, 7 women will [find] one man [and they will] hold [him]. They will say, ‘We will eat our own bread. And we will wear our own clothes. But let us call ourselves by your name. Take away our shame.’

Notes

Verse 1 The enemies had killed the women’s husbands, or they had taken those men away. This means that these women had no husbands. The result was that these women felt ashamed. So a lot of women would find the few men that remained in Judah. They would look after themselves, if only they could seem to be married women.

Something to do

1. Make a list of kings of Judah. Start from Uzziah (called Azariah in some translations). And end with Josiah. Add these details:

·    How old they were when they became king;

·    How long a time they ruled;

·    Whether they were good or bad kings.

You will need to look in the Book of 2 Kings. Look at 2 Kings 15:1-3; 2 Kings 15:32-34; 2 Kings 16:1-2; 2 Kings 18:1-3; 2 Kings 20:21 to 21:2; and 2 Kings 21:26 to 22:2.

2. Pray for your friends that do not love God. Pray that they will start to love God. Pray that they will start to obey him.

More good news

v2 In those days, the Branch of the *LORD will be beautiful. It will be like adornment (something that people wear to make themselves beautiful). And it will be like *glory. And the fruit from the land will be like pride. And it will be like beauty. [Some people] in Israel [will escape]. [Those things will be] for [those] people [there] that escape.

v3 Everyone that remains in Zion (Jerusalem) will be called *holy. Also, [everyone] that stays in Jerusalem [will be called *holy]. All their names will be on a list. [It will be a list] of people that are living in Jerusalem.

v4 The *Lord will wash away the dirt from the *Daughters of Zion. [All those things will happen] at that time. [Then] also, the *Lord will clean away the bloody marks that remain in Jerusalem. [He will do that] by a spirit that will [do the work of] a judge. And [he will do it] by a spirit [that is like a] fire.

v5 [This is what] the *LORD will create over all the mountain [called] Zion. And [it will be over] all the people that gather there. [It will be] a cloud of smoke in the daytime. And [it will be] a fire whose flames glow in the night. The *glory will be a cover over everything.

v6 It will be a shade from the heat in the daytime. And it will be a place to hide from storms and rain.

Notes

Verse 2 The description of the ideal Jerusalem starts here. It is not just what Isaiah thinks. Neither is it what is happening. It is what God will do ‘in those days’. The *Hebrew text has ‘in that day’. Isaiah often wrote about ‘that day’ (those days). Sometimes he meant a time in the history of Israel and Judah. Sometimes he meant a time in the future. And sometimes he actually meant a time when the world will end. Often in Isaiah, words have two or three meanings. For us, ‘that day’ (those days) means firstly when Jesus came to the Earth. He came the first time as a baby in Bethlehem. But also, most importantly, it means the time when Jesus will return. That will happen before the end of the world. Afterwards, there will be a New Jerusalem. It will be the ideal Jerusalem. It will come down out of heaven (the place where God lives) (Revelation 21:2). God’s people from all time will live on the New Earth (Revelation 21:3-5). That is part of the good news that we call ‘the gospel’. Much of Isaiah chapters 1 to 5 is bad news. But among the bad news, there is some good news. It is good news for those people who believe God.

*LORD is a special name for God. It probably means ‘always alive’. Many Bible students think that ‘the Branch of the *LORD’ is a name for the *Messiah. The *Messiah is a great leader whom God promised to send. Christians believe that Jesus is that *Messiah. ‘Family tree’ means a list of people in a family (parents, children, children’s children and so on). When a tree grows, branches grow from it. And from those branches, more branches grow, and so on. Similarly, a family grows when its different members have children. Then those children grow up and they have children, and so on. So we can say that the family’s members are like the branches of a tree. In this verse, the writer reminds us that God (the *LORD) is in Jesus’ family tree. And Jesus is a Branch of the *LORD’s family tree! That is because Jesus is God’s son. It is possible that ‘fruit from the land’ also means the *Messiah. But then the writer would be referring to the *Messiah’s family tree as it was here on Earth. What we read in Isaiah 28:5 seems to give evidence for that idea.

Therefore four special words that Isaiah uses in this verse probably describe the *Messiah. Those words are ‘adornment’ (something to make people beautiful), ‘*glory’, ‘pride’ and ‘beauty’. They were qualities that the people tried to have themselves (Isaiah 2:11, 2:12 and 3:18). But now, they will have all those qualities because they receive them from the *Messiah. That is why this verse has ‘for those people’. Then verse 3 tells us who those people are.

In the list below we can see what those qualities are like.

word

what it means

*adornment

something that people wear to make themselves beautiful

*glory

something that makes people great

pride

something that satisfies people

beauty

something that attracts people

Christians believe that Jesus has all those qualities. Also, they believe that he gives them to Christians too.

Verse 3 The word ‘holy’ is a special word. It means that the person never does anything wrong. Really, only God is holy. But he calls his people holy also. As in verse 2, they receive that quality from God. Isaiah did not say in verse 2 what the people escaped from. But their names are on God’s list. Many other verses in the Bible refer to a similar list. Among them are Exodus 32:32, Psalm 69:28, Daniel 12:1, Malachi 3:16, Luke 10:20 and Philippians 4:3.

Verse 4 ‘*Lord’ is a word that means ‘master’. Or it means ‘someone with authority’. Here it is another name for God. In the *Hebrew Bible it is not the same word that we translate as ‘*LORD’. The ‘Daughters of Zion’ may be the women in Jerusalem whose only interest was in sex. Or it may mean all the people in Judah. The ‘dirt’ came from inside them when they were sick (Isaiah 28:8). The ‘bloody marks’ were outside them. It was the blood of poor people. The bad leaders had been very cruel to them (Isaiah 1:15). Probably, God’s Holy Spirit will be the ‘judge’ here. The spirit that will burn like a fire will be God’s Holy Spirit.

Verse 5 The *Jews left Egypt about 700 years before Isaiah wrote this. They travelled to the Promised Land (the country that God had promised to them). And God went with them. The Promised Land is another name for Judah and Israel. The *Jews knew that God was with them on their journey. As they travelled, there was a cloud of smoke in the daytime. Also, there was a column of fire at night. Those things went in front of them as they travelled through the desert called Sinai (Exodus 13:21-22). Now Isaiah says that it will happen again! This cloud and fire will show to the people that God is with them. The *Hebrew word for ‘cover’ here is not the usual *Hebrew word for ‘cover’. This word means the place where a bridegroom took his bride. It was like a tent. The same *Hebrew word is in these verses:

·    Psalm 19:5 ‘And he is like a bridegroom who comes out of his cover (tent).’

·    Joel 2:16 ‘Let the bridegroom leave his cover (tent).’

That special word has a connection with marriage in Isaiah 49:17-18, Jeremiah 2:2-3, Hosea 2:14-20, Revelation 21:2 and many other places. Isaiah does not say exactly whose *glory it is. It may be God’s *glory or it may be the people’s *glory. Or it may be both.

Verse 6 The cloud and the fire will protect God’s people. They will protect the people from the sun’s heat. And they will protect the people from danger in storms. In their lives, people meet many enemies and dangers. The hot sun and storms are probably special descriptions that mean all those things. At the time when Isaiah was alive, the enemy was the nation called Assyria. There will be no enemy in the New Jerusalem. And there will be no enemy on the New Earth. That is really good news! That is part of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ!

Something to do

1. Study Psalm 87 in the Psalms in Easy English.

2. Compare how the writer uses the name ‘Branch’ in Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15, Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12. Notice that only Isaiah 4:2 describes the Branch as part of God’s family tree. (The note about Isaiah 4:2 explains what ‘family tree’ means.) In all those other verses here, the Branch is part of David’s human family tree.

3. Pray that God will wash your *sin away to make you clean from it. ‘Sin’ means all the wrong things that you have done. Then God will write your name in his list of people (verse 3). Then you will live in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth!

Chapter 5

Punishment from God

v1 Now I will sing [a song] for the person that I love. [I will sing] a song [to show my] love. [The song is] about his *vineyard.

          ‘The person that I love has a *vineyard.

                      It is on a hill where plants grow well.

v2     He dug [the ground] and he cleared away the stones.

                      He planted the best *vines in it.

          That [person] built a place where he could watch [the *vineyard].

                      He also made a place to store *grapes there.

          Then he expected [that the *vineyard would] produce [good] *grapes.

                      But it produced sour *grapes.’

v3 ‘And now [decide], you inhabitants of Jerusalem. [Decide], all you people that live in Judah. You, decide who was wrong. [Decide whether it was] me or my *vineyard.

v4 There was nothing else that I ought to have done for my *vineyard. I had done everything for it! I looked for [good] *grapes. [Tell me] why [my *vineyard] gave sour *grapes!

v5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my *vineyard. I will take away its hedge. Then [animals will come in and they will] eat [the *vines]. I will knock down the wall [of the *vineyard]. Then [the animals] will walk all over [the *vineyard].

v6 I will make the land [poor, so that it has] no use. Nobody will *prune the *vines [and nobody will] dig the ground round them. So weeds and *thorn bushes will grow there. I will order the clouds not to [drop] rain on it.

v7 Now the *vineyard [that] the *LORD of Everything [has] is a description of Israel. The plants [there] that he likes are a description of the people in Judah. The *LORD looked for what was fair and right. But he saw only the opposite. [He expected] goodness. But he heard only people that were crying for help.’

Notes

Isaiah chapters 1 to 4 are about the problems that the people in Jerusalem and Judah had. However, God makes promises to his people if they obey him. So there is also some good news in Isaiah chapters 1 to 4. But now, in chapter 5, there is no good news. Instead, God promises to punish the people in Jerusalem and Judah. We can divide the chapter into three groups of verses.

1) Verses 1-7 are often called ‘the song about the *vineyard’. Or they are called ‘the story about the *vineyard’. They are also called ‘the parable (special story) about the *vineyard’. The writer has hidden inside the story what he really means. The song itself may only be in verses 1 and 2. But it may be all of verses 1b-7. (1b means the second part of verse 1.)

2) Verses 8-25 describe the wrong things that the people in Jerusalem and Judah have done.

3) Verses 26-30 describe how God will punish the people in Jerusalem and Judah. He will call a distant nation to do it. He does not tell us the name of that nation. Perhaps it was the nation called Assyria, whose army would come to punish the people in Israel, the northern country. Perhaps it was the nation called Babylon, whose army would come to punish the people in Judah, the southern country.

Verse 1 The love here is not the love between two people. It is the love with which God loves his people in Judah and Israel. A *vineyard is a place where people produce the fruit called *grapes. They make wine from the *grapes. But sometimes in the Bible, ‘*vineyard’ means ‘the people in Judah and Israel’. It has that meaning here, as it does in Isaiah 1:8 and 3:14. We do not know when Isaiah wrote chapter 5. ‘B.C.’ means ‘years Before Christ came to the Earth’. The army from Assyria destroyed Israel in 722 B.C. If Isaiah wrote chapter 5 after that, then the ‘*vineyard’ means only Judah.

‘On a hill where plants grow well’ is more a guess than a translation. The *Hebrew words mean ‘on the horn of a son of oil’. ‘Horns’ (hard bony pieces) grow on the head of some animals. Cows, for example, have horns. People blew into horns to make music. Also, they used them as jugs, from which people poured out oil (1 Samuel 16:1). Some Bible students think that those *Hebrew words are the name of a place, Ben Shamen. But most Bible students prefer the translation ‘on a hill where plants grow well’. Isaiah sings a song for ‘the person that I love’. That person is God. ‘His *vineyard’ is ‘God’s *vineyard’.

Verse 2 A ‘vine’ is a plant that climbs up walls and fences. Different fruits grow on different kinds of *vines. They include *grapes. The *Hebrew word for ‘the best *vines’ is the name of a place, Sorek. It was a place where people produced good *grapes. So Bible students translate Sorek as ‘the best *vines’. The man that planted the *vineyard probably used stones. He may have used them to build a wall round his *vineyard. He certainly built a little house in it. He could sit in that house to keep away birds and thieves. He also made a place (a store) in which to store the *grapes. The house and the store showed that he expected a lot of good *grapes. But the *vineyard produced sour *grapes. ‘Sour *grapes’ is the translation of a *Hebrew word that probably means ‘fruit with a bad smell’. People could not use them to make wine.

Verses 3-4 Here God speaks by means of Isaiah. The song is probably over. God says that he could do nothing more for his *vineyard. That means that the problem was in the *vineyard. The problem was not in God!

Verse 5 When there is no hedge or wall, animals will destroy the *vineyard. There will be no more *grapes. There will be no more good *grapes and there will not even be any sour *grapes. This is a description of what Assyria’s or Babylon’s armies would do to Israel and Judah. God would not protect his people then. It was as if he would take away the wall. The wall had kept the enemies out.

Verse 6 The land will become the kind of land that has no use. This means that instead of *vines there will be weeds. *Thorn bushes are one type of weed that will grow. ‘Thorn bushes’ are bushes with sharp points (called ‘thorns’) that grow out of their branches. Nobody will *prune the *vines. When people *prune *vines, they cut off some branches. Then, other branches will have more fruit on them and that fruit will be better. ‘Thorn bushes’ reminds us about Genesis 3:18. There we read that thorn bushes would grow on the land. The end of verse 6 reminds us that only God can send rain.

Verse 7 *LORD is a special name for God. It probably means ‘always alive’. People did not do what was right and fair. The word ‘goodness’ here means ‘acts that are good, right and fair’. God looked at his people in Israel and Judah. But he did not see goodness in them. It was as if God was in a *vineyard. And he looked for good *grapes. But he found only sour *grapes, which smelt bad. God looked for goodness in his people. He expected them to be good, right and fair. But he found the opposite. They were bad, wrong and unfair.

v8 It will be very sad for the people that build [one] house [next] to [another] house. Also, they join [one] field to [another] field. [They do that] until there is no more room. Then you (those people) live alone on the land.

v9 I have heard the *LORD of Everything [promise this. He said], ‘It is certain that many houses will become empty. There will be large and beautiful houses in which nobody lives.

v10 Also, large areas of *vineyard will give only a small amount [of wine]. Huge amounts of seed will produce only a little [corn].’

v11 It will be very sad for the people that get up early in the morning. [They do that] so that they can get a drink of alcohol. They stay up late in the evening so that wine can make them into drunks.

v12 At [those people’s] parties, there is [music from] the lyre and harp (instruments with strings). [There is music from the] tambourine (instrument for rhythm) and from the flute (instrument to blow). [Those people enjoy] their wine. But they do not consider God’s works as valuable. They do not appreciate what he has made.

v13 So my people will go into *exile, because they do not understand [God]. Their leaders will starve. And very many people’s [mouths] will be very dry because they desperately need to drink.

v14 So *Sheol will open its mouth very wide to eat more [people]. The leaders and the people will go into it. [Death will take] the noisy crowds [into itself]. And [it will take into itself] the people that have parties [in Jerusalem].

v15 So [the *LORD] will make people humble. Then [God] will make everybody low! [He will] take away their proud looks.

v16 But [he], the *LORD of Everything, [is] right and fair. [And that] will make him great! The holy God will prove that he is holy by his very great goodness.

v17 Then the sheep will eat grass as [they do in] their own fields. Beggars (people that ask for food or money) will eat in the large houses [that the enemy] ruined.

v18 It will be very sad for the people that tie themselves to *sin. [It is as if they were using] stupid [pieces of] string. [They pull] *sin [along] as [a horse pulls] a cart with ropes (very thick strings).

v19 [It will be very sad for] those that say this. ‘Let [the *LORD] hurry! Let him do his work quickly so that we can see it. Let the plan of the *Holy [God] of Israel come near. Let it happen. Then we will really know [that it is true]!’

v20 It will be very sad for the people that call evil things good. Also, [they call] good things evil. Those [people] say that darkness is light. And [they say] that light is darkness. Those [people] say that bitter things are sweet. And [they say that] sweet things are bitter.

v21 It will be very sad for the people that are wise in their own opinion. They think that they are clever.

v22 It will be very sad for the people that are great in their own opinion. [They think it] because they drink a lot of wine. Also, some people mix drinks that contain alcohol. And those drinks make [them seem] strong. [It will be very sad] for those people too.

v23 People [that have done wrong things] give money to those people. Then they do not punish the people that have done wrong things. [But] they are not right and fair towards innocent people.

v24 Therefore, [those people are like plants whose] roots will rot (change to dirt). [That will happen] as [certainly as] flames burn straw. And as fire burns away dry grass, their flowers will blow away like dust. [This will happen] because they refused to obey the laws of the *LORD of Everything. And they laughed at what the Holy [God] of Israel said. [They laughed at it] in a bad way.

v25 For that reason the *LORD became angry with his people. He punished them like someone that hits them with his hand. And the mountains shook. And [his people’s] dead bodies were like rubbish in the streets. Yet [the *LORD] is still angry with them, although [he has already done] all this. And his hand is still ready [to hit them again].

Notes

Verses 8-25 contain 6 sections that start in the same way. Each section starts with the words ‘it will be very sad for’ certain people. In those sections, we learn this. God will punish people that do these things:

·    They buy all the houses and lands, so that the poor people cannot find anywhere to live (verses 8-10).

·    They drink too much alcohol at parties and they forget God. They forget that they should act rightly and fairly (verses 11-17).

·    They ask God to do what he has promised. But they do not believe that God can do it (verses 18-19).

·    They tell lies (verse 20).

·    They think that they know everything. But really, they know nothing (verse 21).

·    They are not fair when they are judges over the people. That is because the judges are drunks (verses 22-23).

Verse 8 The people will be sad because God will punish them. We know that they did wrong things. We know it because God will punish them. They were rich people. They built houses for themselves. They bought all the fields. As a result, poorer people could find nowhere to live. That still happens in many places. Only the rich people lived on that land. They had no neighbours.

Verse 9 The word ‘promise’ is not in the *Hebrew Bible. The text there just has ‘In my ears the *LORD of Everything’. People may have big houses. But they will become empty and then nobody will live in them.

Verse 10 Not only will the houses be empty, but also the fields will not give good crops. The crops of *grapes (to make wine) will be poor. So will the crops of corn (to make bread). Our translation has the words ‘large areas’, ‘small’, ‘huge amounts’ and ‘little’. Those are all *Hebrew measurements. We are not sure what some words among them mean. Also, the words that mean ‘wine’ and ‘corn’ are not in the *Hebrew text.

Verse 12 The ‘lyre’, ‘harp’, ‘tambourine’ and ‘flute’ are musical instruments. Together, they would make a small orchestra. The lyre and harp have strings. People hit the tambourine and they shake it. In that way, they produce rhythm. People blow into the flute. Those instruments would provide music at the parties while people were becoming drunks. But in addition to that, there is something else that God does not like. It is this. These people have also forgotten what God has done. They have forgotten what he has made. A more exact translation of the *Hebrew words is this. ‘They do not appreciate the works of his hands.’

Verse 13 ‘In *exile’ means the situation where people have to live away from their own country. They are there because enemies have taken them away. In 722 *B.C., Israel’s people went into *exile. They went to Assyria. In 587 *B.C., Judah’s people went into *exile. They went to Babylon. They did not understand why they had to go. Verse 12 tells us this. They did not understand what God was doing. There will be little food and not much to drink. Perhaps verse 10 explains why that will be so. As a result, many people will die.

Verse 14 The inhabitants of Judah and Israel used to say that people went to Sheol after death. By ‘Sheol’, they meant a dark place under the ground. The word Sheol includes the idea of punishment. Sheol means death. Isaiah describes death as if it has a mouth. Death eats people with its mouth! Like the leaders and people, death is hungry! The *Hebrew words mean ‘her people’ and ‘her leaders’. ‘Her’ probably refers to Jerusalem.

Verse 15 The first part of this verse repeats Isaiah 2:9. Here, ‘make low’ is another way to say ‘make humble’. In *exile, the people will not be proud any longer. They will be servants and slaves.

Verse 16 But the *LORD will be even greater! Only he can be proud of the wonderful things that he has made. He is right to have pride in these things because he is fair. ‘Very great goodness’ means the good things that God does.

Verse 17 When the people have gone from the towns, animals will feed in their houses. But the enemy will have made the houses into heaps of stones. Some Bible students think that ‘the sheep’ means the *Jews. They also think that the beggars were foreigners. ‘Beggars’ are people that ask other people for things. They ask for food or for money. Assyria’s armies usually moved foreigners into countries that its armies had defeated.

Verse 18 This verse is very difficult to understand. And so it is very difficult to translate. It seems that people have bad habits. They are always doing those bad things. They have tied themselves to their bad habits as a piece of strong string ties things together! God will punish those people. ‘Ropes’ are very thick strings. A horse pulls a cart by means of ropes. They are very strong. It is not easy to break them. Similarly, it is not easy to stop one’s sin (wrong deeds). ‘Sin’ is when we do not obey God.

Verse 19 These people speak to God in a proud way. This is what they want to tell him: ‘Do something! That will prove that your words are really true! Then we will believe you!’ In fact, they probably mean this: ‘Do what you have said. Send us into *exile.’ They do not really think that God will do it. They will not believe God’s plans until they happen. The ‘Holy [God] of Israel’ is a name for God. It is also in Isaiah 1:4. Isaiah uses ‘Holy’ as a name for God.

Verse 20 These are people that speak lies. They say that truth is really not true. And they say that lies are the truth.

Verse 21 This verse links with verse 13. These people think that they are clever. But they do not believe what God has done. So really, they are not clever, but they are stupid!

Verses 22-23 Probably here, the same people that become drunks are also the judges. Because they are drunks, they do not punish criminals. Also, they are not fair to innocent people. They drink strong drinks that contain alcohol. Some examples of those are beer and wine. People then imagine that they are strong. But usually they are not strong then, especially when they mix different drinks!

Verses 24-25 The 6 sections above started with ‘it will be very sad’. These verses finish those 6 sections. Nobody can stop a fire that burns straw and dry grass. So nobody will be able to stop God! Isaiah describes the people as if they were plants. Their roots will rot. (A plant ‘rots’ as it dies. It first becomes soft and damp. And then it changes into dirt.) As it happens for a plant, their flowers will die. And then the flowers will blow away in the wind. Nothing whatever will remain! At the beginning of verse 25, the *Hebrew words mean this. ‘His anger burned against his people.’ That links verses 24 and 25 together. Because also verse 24 is about a fire that burns. The *LORD used the enemies of his people to punish them. He used the enemies to defeat his people. The *Hebrew words for ‘punished’ mean ‘lifted his hand against them’. It is a description of somebody that is hitting somebody else. Notice that the beginning of verse 25 is in the past tense. There are two reasons for that.

1) Isaiah is referring to the past war in Isaiah 1:2-9. That war has ruined the whole country.

2) A similar thing will happen again in the future. Judah will go into *exile in Babylon then. Because that is so certain to happen, Isaiah puts it into the past tense! In Isaiah’s mind, it is almost as if it had happened already.

When the ground shakes, we call it an ‘earthquake’. Perhaps Isaiah meant the earthquake in Amos 1:1 and Zechariah 14:5. Or perhaps he meant a future earthquake.

v26 [The *LORD] will send a signal to distant nations. And he will [blow his] whistle to [a nation that is a long way away. It is at] the ends of the earth. And look! Here [its army] comes, at great speed!

v27 Nobody is tired. Nobody falls down. Nobody rests. Nobody sleeps. Nobody has a loose belt. And not one shoe has a strap (strip of leather to fasten it) that has broken.

v28 Their arrows are sharp and their bows are ready to shoot. Their horses’ feet are [as hard as] stones. And their wheels [on their chariots (carts that soldiers rode in) go as fast] as a strong wind.

v29 Their roar is like a lion’s [roar]. They make a noise like a young lion. They make a low, angry noise as they seize their prey (animals that they catch for food). They carry it away and nobody can rescue it.

v30 On that day [the enemies] will make a low, angry noise over their prey (what they catch to eat). Their roar will be like the [roar of the] sea. And if anybody looks at that country, they will see darkness. And [they will see] people that are afraid. Also, clouds [of dust] will hide the light [of the sun].

Notes

This section describes the enemy that will attack God’s people.

Verse 26 The *LORD calls to a distant nation. But Isaiah does not say which this distant nation is. The army of that nation comes at great speed.

Verse 27 The soldiers have come a long way. But they are not tired when they arrive. Neither are their clothes untidy. A ‘strap’ of a shoe is a piece of leather. It fastens the shoe onto the foot.

Verse 28 The soldiers’ equipment is efficient. The horses’ feet (called ‘hoofs’) are very hard. So the roads will not hurt them. The horses pull chariots. ‘Chariots’ were special carts in which soldiers rode.

Verses 29-30 The enemies frighten people by the noise that they make. In the same way, a lion makes a low, angry noise to frighten its prey. ‘Prey’ is what an animal catches to eat. The army moves quickly. So a lot of dust rises up round it. That dust hides the light that comes from the sun.

Something to do

1. Isaiah wrote about God’s *vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-7. *Vines grow in *vineyards. Study also what Jesus said about *vines (John 15:1-8). There, Jesus gave a special description of himself and of his people. He said that he is the true *vine. And his people are the branches. Compare those two parables. ‘Parables’ are stories with a special meaning inside them. They help us to understand people and things. Here, they help us to understand God.

2. Isaiah 5:8-25 is often called the ‘Book of Woes’. ‘Woes’ are sad feelings. We have those feelings when trouble comes. Also Jesus said that it would be very sad for some people. You will find what he said in Matthew 23:13-33. The *Jews did not have their own government when Jesus gave that list. Leaders in Rome ruled over the *Jews. So Jesus told bad leaders of religion that it would be very sad for them. Read what Jesus said. Then compare it with what Isaiah said.

3. In the Book of Revelation, there are more things that will make people feel very sad. Read Revelation chapter 9 and compare it with Isaiah 5:26-30. In Isaiah, God used armies from Assyria. And later he used armies from Babylon. What kind of armies does he use in Revelation chapter 9?

4. Read through Isaiah chapters 1 to 5. Make sure that you can find these things:

·    what happened when Isaiah was alive.

·    what happened when Jesus first came to the Earth.

·    what will happen when Jesus will come to the Earth again.

 

Isaiah chapter 6: God appoints Isaiah to be a *prophet

Chapter 6

v1 [This happened] in the year when King Uzziah died. I saw my *Lord. He was sitting on a very high throne (king’s special seat). [The end of] his very long coat filled the *temple.

v2 Above [the *Lord] were [special servants of God called] seraphs. They were waiting to serve him. Each [seraph] had six wings. [Each one had] six wings. Two [wings] were covering their faces. Two [wings] were covering their feet. With two [wings] they were flying.

v3 One [seraph (special servant of God)] called to another. They said, ‘The *LORD of Everything is *holy, holy, holy! His *glory fills the whole Earth.’

v4 As each [seraph (special servant)] called, the doorsteps of the *temple shook. Also, the *temple was full of smoke.

Notes

In this chapter, the *prophet Isaiah is the speaker. A ‘prophet’ tells people what God shows to him. In this chapter, Isaiah tells us what he saw. Then he tells us what happened to him. 1a means the first part of verse one and 1b means the second part, and so on.

In verses 1-4 Isaiah tells us what he saw. A ‘vision’ is something very special that a person sees. Usually, other people cannot see it. We do not know whether those things in the *vision really happened. Isaiah may have seen them in his mind. But he did see something very special. So here, ‘saw’ does not mean ‘understood’, as it did in Isaiah 1:1. If those things really happened, then Isaiah did not go into the building at the *temple. The note about verse 1c explains that. But if the *vision was only in his mind, then he may have gone in. We do not know!

Verse 1a This happened ‘in the year when King Uzziah died’. King Uzziah died at some time between 740 and 736 B.C. ‘B.C.’ means ‘years Before Christ came to the Earth’. Uzziah was a great king, and he made his country strong (2 Chronicles 26:6-15). But Uzziah became proud. He went to the *temple. And there he did the work that a priest would normally do. The *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. Only God’s special servants that worked there, the priests, could go into the *temple. So because Uzziah had gone in, God punished him. God caused Uzziah to have a serious disease in his skin. People with that disease had to live alone, so Uzziah’s son Jotham did the work of the king (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). Later, Uzziah’s grandson Ahaz helped Jotham. A few years before Uzziah died, something very important happened in Assyria. Assyria was a big country that was north and east from Judah. Assyria had a new king. His name was Tiglathpileser the Third, because there had been 2 other kings called Tiglathpileser before him. He ruled in 745-727 B.C. This Tiglathpileser wanted to rule the world from Assyria to Egypt. That huge area included Judah. Judah was never as great again as when Uzziah was king.

Verse 1b ‘I saw my Lord.’ ‘Lord’ is a word that means ‘master’. It is someone that has authority. Here it means God. Isaiah wrote his book in the *Hebrew language. ‘Lord’ is not the same word in *Hebrew as ‘*LORD’ is in verse 3. ‘*LORD’ is a special name for God. It refers to the *Hebrew word ‘YHWH’. Bible students think that ‘YHWH’ means ‘always alive’. God called himself by that name when he made a covenant with his people. A ‘covenant’ is a special, serious agreement. In the Bible, it is usually what God and his people agree to do for each other. God agrees to help his people if they obey him.

In Exodus 33:20 we read, ‘No man shall see me (God) and live.’ From that verse, we learn this. We shall only see God when we die. But many people in the Old Testament (the first 39 books in the Bible) saw God and they stayed alive! Some examples are Abraham (Genesis 18:1-3), Jacob (Genesis 32:24-30) and Moses (Exodus 3:4). How can we explain that? A possible explanation is in John 12:41: ‘Isaiah saw Jesus’ *glory.’ Jesus came to Earth as a baby. He was born on this Earth in Bethlehem. But he was alive before that. Jesus is God, but people looked at him. They saw him, but they did not die! So Abraham, Jacob and Moses probably saw Jesus. And many other people in the Old Testament (first part of the Bible) saw him. Therefore they did not die when they saw God. This is possible because Jesus is God in human form. The note about verse 3b explains the word ‘*glory’.

Verse 1c The *Lord was sitting on a throne. A ‘throne’ is a special seat on which a king sits. Or some other very important person may sit on a throne (special seat). Both the *Lord and the throne were very high up. They were probably up in the sky. Isaiah was not in the *temple, but he was outside it. We know that for two reasons:

·    Isaiah was probably not a priest. So he could not go into the actual building, the *temple itself.

·    The *altar in verse 6 was outside the building.

Outside the *temple, there were some large yards without roofs. Ordinary people would pray in the outer yard. But only priests could go into the inner yard. And only priests could enter the actual building, that is, the *temple itself.

Kings often wear special clothes. Here we read about a very long and beautiful coat that a king wears. Its end is several metres behind the king as he walks. Usually he has servants to lift it off the ground. We call the very long end of that special coat a ‘train’. An engine on the railway pulls a train of carriages. Similarly, a king with such a coat pulls along a ‘train’ of cloth! The ‘train’ of cloth was so long that its end went into the *temple. It seemed to fill the *temple.

Verse 2 A ‘seraph’ is an angel of fire. An ‘angel’ is a special servant of God. An angel lives in heaven with God. Perhaps these seraphs’ (special angels’) wings seemed like flames of fire! Their wings were never still. They were covering their faces because they could not look at the *LORD. We do not know why these special angels were covering their feet. Perhaps it meant that they did not decide where to go. They allowed God to decide. With the other two wings, these angels were flying. But they stayed in the same position in the air, as some birds do. Notice that these seraphs (special servants of God) had faces, hands and feet, as people have. What Isaiah saw surprised him. It surprised him so much that he said ‘six wings’ twice! What he saw was wonderful.

Verse 3a We do not know how many seraphs (special *angels with six wings) there were. But they called to each other in pairs. The *Hebrew word here means ‘called’ or ‘shouted’ to each other. In the Old Testament (the first 39 books in the Bible), we do not usually read that *angels can sing. These *angels declared, ‘The *LORD of Everything is holy, holy, holy.’ The note about verse 1b explains ‘*LORD’. ‘*Holy’ means ‘very, very good’. Only God is really holy. He is so good, so holy, that people cannot go near him. In his book, ‘The *Prophecy of Isaiah’, the writer called Alec Motyer says this. These two things may make God holy. He is separate from people and he is very bright to look at.

·    God is separate because he has not *sinned. However, people have sinned. ‘Sinned’ means that they have ‘not obeyed God’s rules’.

·    He is bright, as the sun is bright. Just as people cannot look at the sun, so they cannot look directly at God.

Isaiah calls God ‘the Holy [God] of Israel’ 25 times in his book. ‘Holy, holy, holy’ probably means ‘very, very, very holy’.

Verse 3b Isaiah also uses the name ‘*LORD of Everything’ many times. Some examples are in Isaiah 1:9 and 1:24. In those verses, the idea is that the *LORD has armies of *angels. And he is the commander of those armies. Often, the *angels help God’s people. But here in Isaiah 6:3, the *angels are not fighting to help God’s people. Instead, Isaiah is telling us that God is the *LORD of Everything. That means everything that is on Earth. And it also means everything that is in the skies. ‘The whole Earth’ here may also include the skies above the Earth. The Earth and the sky are full of God’s glory. ‘Glory’ is what makes God great. It is what makes him shine more brightly than the sun. It is what makes him different from men and women.

Verse 4 If the doorsteps shake, so will the whole house! Isaiah was perhaps near the door of the *temple. The *altar was near the door. The note about verse 6 explains the word ‘altar’. When God is near, the ground often shakes. There is often smoke and fire as well. Some examples of that are in Exodus 19:18, Psalm 18:7-8 and Habakkuk 3:3-10. Here, the smoke fills the *temple so that nobody can see into it.

v5 Then I said, ‘I am so sad, because I must be silent! I am a man with lips that are not clean. And I live among people whose lips are not clean. And with my own eyes I have seen the King, the *LORD of Everything!’

v6 Then one seraph (special *angel with six wings) flew towards me. In his hand was a [piece of] coal. The coal was burning. The *angel had taken it from the *altar with tongs (a tool to pick up hot objects).

v7 And he touched my mouth [with it]. And he said, ‘Look! This [very hot coal] has touched your lips. It has taken away your responsibility for the wrong things that you have done. It has covered your *sin.’

v8 Then I heard the voice of the *Lord. He said, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘I am here. Send me.’

Notes

In verses 5-8, we read how the *vision affected Isaiah.

Verse 5 One translation of ‘I am so sad’ is ‘There is no hope for me!’ (The Good News Bible). ‘I must be silent’ means this. Isaiah cannot prophesy. And to ‘prophesy’ means to ‘tell people what God is saying’. Isaiah cannot do that because his ‘lips are not clean’. It means that he has said bad things. And so have the people all round him. He cannot even praise God together with the seraphs (special *angels with six wings)! Isaiah has seen the holy God (verses 1-4). That has made him feel how bad he is. The king whom he saw was God himself.

Verse 6 The *altar was outside the door of the *temple (the building). The ‘altar’ was a metal table with a fire on it. There the priests burned animals that they had killed. God had ordered them to do that. ‘Tongs’ are special scissors with which to hold hot things. The seraph (special *angel) used tongs to take the very hot coal from the fire. Then he touched Isaiah’s mouth with the coal. The important thing to notice is this. Isaiah was sad because his lips were not clean. So, he was sad because he had said bad things. But God sent the seraph (special *angel) to him. And God had actually showed himself to Isaiah in verses 1-4. All through this chapter, God acts first!

Verse 7 God sent the seraph (special *angel) to touch Isaiah’s lips with a piece of very hot coal. When the seraph did that, God was showing two things to Isaiah.

·    God had taken away Isaiah’s feeling that he was responsible for his *sins. Isaiah had felt bad because he had done wrong things. And he had expected punishment for those wrong things.

·    God had covered Isaiah’s *sin, so that God could not see it. The *Hebrew word for ‘cover’ is the same word that *Jews still use in the name Yom Kippur. ‘Yom’ means ‘day’, and ‘kippur’ means ‘cover’. Yom Kippur is a special day for *Jews each year. On that day, they remember that God covers *sin. Actually, a more exact translation of ‘cover’ here is ‘pay the cost’. In English today, the words ‘cover the cost’ still mean ‘pay the cost’.

However, we may wonder how God can ‘cover our *sin’. We may ask this question. Does he just cover our *sin and so he merely hides it? No, he does not! The answer is in the New Testament (the last 27 books in the Bible). God had to pay the cost of our *sin. That cost was the life of his son, Jesus. All men and women are sinners (people that sin). To ‘sin’ means that we do not obey God. ‘Sin’ also means our thoughts, words and deeds when we do not obey God. But God made Jesus take the responsibility for our sin. Jesus died as a sinner! Paul tells this to us in 2 Corinthians 5:21. ‘God caused Jesus to become sin for us. Jesus never sinned himself. [God did that] so that we, in [Jesus], might be like God. [God is] very, very good. [He has never sinned.]’ The words in square brackets, [ … ], help us to understand what Paul wrote.

That explains the word ‘forgives’. We could remember this word as: ‘for-gives’. For us, God gives our *sin to Jesus. When Jesus died, he took our *sin away. That means that he took the responsibility for our *sin. The soldiers from Rome hung Jesus on a wooden cross. They hung him there to die. In that way, he took the punishment for our *sin. But we must all confess our *sins to God. And whoever we are, we must thank God. We must thank him that he has forgiven us. If we do not do those things, God cannot forgive us.

Verse 8 In verse 1, God was very high up. But now he is near enough for Isaiah to hear him speak. That happens when God forgives us. We can hear him speak. There is nothing between God and a person whom he forgives. The *Lord says, ‘Who will go for us?’ In John 12:41 we read that Isaiah saw Jesus. (Read the note about verse 1b again.) And in Acts 28:25, we learn this. Isaiah heard the Holy Spirit speak in this chapter in Isaiah. So ‘us’ may mean the three persons that, together, are the one real God. They are God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. Christians use the word ‘Trinity’ to describe God. ‘Trinity’ means ‘three in one’. This may also explain why the word ‘holy’ appears three times in verse 3.

But other Christians have another explanation of verse 3. ‘Holy’ in verse 3 appears three times because God is very, very, very holy. These Christians think that ‘us’ in verse 8 means God and the seraphs (special *angels). They do not believe that it means the Trinity (‘three in one’).

Isaiah answers, ‘Send me.’ When God forgives someone, that person often offers himself to God as a servant.

v9 And [God said], ‘Go! And tell [this] to these people [in Israel and Judah].

·    Always listen. But you will never understand!

·    Always look. But you will never see what it means!

v10 Make the heart of these people fat. Close their ears and shut their eyes. [Do that] or they will see with their eyes. They will hear with their ears and they will understand with their hearts. [Then they will] turn (change their minds) and they will be healthy again.’

v11 Then I said, ‘For how long, *Lord, [must I do this]?’ And [this is what] he answered.

·    Do it until [the people’s enemy] destroys the cities. Then nobody will live there.

·    Do it until nobody lives in the houses.

·    Do it until the land has absolutely no use.

·    v12 Do it until the *LORD removes people to distant [places].

·    And do it until an enemy has ruined many places inside the country (Israel and Judah).

v13 And even if one from every ten [places or people] remains, an enemy will burn them again! They will burn trees called terebinths and oaks. But from the roots of such a tree, a holy nation will grow.

Notes

These verses are difficult for us to understand. But what they mean is this. People will not listen to Isaiah, and an enemy will destroy the countries called Israel and Judah. But there will be a few people that remain. They will still love God and they will serve him. This is a typical thing for Isaiah. After sad words, he often puts a message that contains hope. This message of hope is for the people that still trust in God. Read again Isaiah 2:1-5 and 4:2-6.

Verse 9 God told Isaiah to do something that was very strange! He must tell people about God, but they would never understand him. He must show them about God. But the people would never see what he meant. They would not understand. So Isaiah did what God told him to do. Isaiah spoke with very simple words, so that people complained. He was speaking to them as one would speak to a baby! That is what they said (Isaiah 28:9-10). But they did not listen to him, because they were evil people. They did not understand what he said. That was because they were sinners (people that did not obey God). The note about verse 7 explains what ‘sinners’ are.

Verse 10 Here God tells Isaiah what will happen. The verse starts with three descriptions.

‘Make the heart of these people fat.’ The *Jews believed that people thought in their hearts. A fat heart means a mind that cannot think. So one English translation has ‘Make this people thick in the head’ (J.B. Phillips). ‘Thick in the head’ is an English way to say ‘stupid’.

The *Hebrew words for ‘close their ears’ really mean ‘make their ears heavy’. It means that they cannot hear anything.

‘Shut their eyes’ means that they cannot see anything.

These three descriptions all mean the same thing. People will not understand Isaiah’s words! They might listen to Isaiah, but in the end they will not believe his message. If they did believe it, they would ‘turn’. Here ‘turn’ means ‘change their minds’. They would become healthy. That means that they would obey God again. In Hosea 6:1, we read this. ‘Come, and let us go back to the *LORD. After he has hurt us, he will cure us.’ The message there is the same as it is here in Isaiah.

Verse 11 The *Lord did not say who would destroy the cities. He did not say who would spoil the land. God used armies from Assyria to destroy Israel. And he used armies from Babylon to destroy Judah. The words ‘for how long?’ are not really a question. They are a sad cry, like ‘I am so sad’ in verse 5. But the *Lord answered Isaiah’s words. The *Lord said this. The people would not believe Isaiah until somebody came to destroy their country. Nobody would live in the towns and there would be no farmers in the country.

Verse 12 The *LORD did not say where the distant places were. He did not say whom he would use to do those things. But we know the answer. When the army from Assyria defeated Israel, they took the best people away to Assyria. The army from Babylon did a similar thing with Judah.

Verse 13 This verse is a puzzle to Bible students! It seems to mean this. When someone cuts down a tree, the tree will grow again from its roots. In the same way, a remnant will grow again. The ‘remnant’ here means the few people that still obey God. After enemies destroy both Judah and Israel, the remnant will still be there. The nation will grow again from them. Terebinths and oaks are types of trees.

Something to do

1. Make sure that God forgives you. Confess to him that you have *sinned. Then ask him to forgive you. Promise that you will try to obey him in the future. Then offer yourself to him as his servant.

2. Study the places where verses 9-10 appear in the New Testament (the last 27 books in the Bible). Look at Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:39-41; and Acts 28:26-27.

3. Isaiah said the words ‘Then I said’ three times in Isaiah chapter 6. Find those three places. The three things there were important when God appointed Isaiah to be a *prophet. Use your own words to describe those three important phases.

 

Word List

adornment ~ something that people wear to make themselves beautiful.

altar ~ a special metal table where people burnt animals and corn to please God.

angel ~ a special servant of God in *heaven.

BC ~ years Before Christ came to the earth. Some books have B.C.E. instead. This means Before Common Era. The common era means the last 2000 years.

bribe ~ a gift that persuades someone to do something that may be wrong.

bull ~ a male animal of the same kind as a cow.

Daughter of Zion ~ in Isaiah, ‘people who live in Jerusalem or Judah’.

descendants ~ future members of a family.

exile ~ a person whom enemies force to live away from his own home or country. Or, the place where that person has to live.

glory ~ something that shines and is wonderful. Especially, it is God’s splendid beauty.

grapes ~ fruits that people use to make wine.

guilt ~ the feeling when you know that you have done something wrong. It is a sense of responsibility for the bad things that you have done.

guilty ~ you are guilty when you ought to feel *guilt.

heaven ~ God’s home.

heavens ~ another word for ‘skies’. It can also mean the place where God lives and the skies above us.

Hebrew ~ the language that Isaiah spoke.

Holy (God) ~ a special name for God that Isaiah used.

holy ~ very, very good. Only God is really holy. He is so holy that he is separate from everybody else.

idol ~ a false god that people made.

incense ~ a substance that makes a sweet smell when people burn it.

jewel ~ something small, pretty and often very valuable which people wear; a precious stone.

jewellery ~ pretty objects, for example precious stones and gold, that people wear.

Jews ~ the people that lived in Judah (which sounds like ‘Jew-dah’) and Israel.

LORD ~ a special name for God that only his servants should use. It is not a translation. It represents the *Hebrew word YHWH. It probably means that God is always alive.

lord ~ master. When it has a capital L (that is, ‘Lord’) it is a name for God.

LORD of Everything ~ a name for God. Some people translate it ‘*LORD of *Angel Armies’.

messiah ~ a special leader. With a capital M (that is, ‘Messiah’) it means Jesus to Christians.

oil ~ a liquid that people obtain from a fruit called the *olive. People cook with it and they use it in lamps. It is not the same as oil for a car.

olive ~ a fruit that gives *oil.

prophecy ~ a message from God.

prophesy ~ tell people what God is saying.

prophet ~ someone who says what God is saying. There is a note at Isaiah 1:1.

prune ~ cut off part of a plant to make the plant grow better.

redeem ~ a member of your family buys you from an enemy.

remnant ~ a bit of something bigger. In Isaiah, it often means the few people that still obeyed God.

repent ~ be sorry for your *sins. Tell God you will try not to do them again.

righteous ~ very, very good. Only God is really righteous (always right) but he calls his people righteous too.

robe ~ a long and beautiful coat that a king wears.

rope ~ very thick string.

Sabbath ~ the 7th day of the week (Saturday), when the *Jews *worshipped God. It was a day for rest and prayer.

Sheol ~ death. Many people thought that your spirit went to a place called Sheol after the death of your body.

sin ~ not to obey God. Or, what you do when you do not obey God.

soothsayer ~ someone that uses magic to find out what will happen in the future.

spear ~ a knife with a very long handle.

temple ~ God’s house in Jerusalem. False gods also had temples.

thorns ~ plants which have sharp points on their branches.

vine ~ a plant on which fruits grow. In the Book of Isaiah, the fruits are *grapes.

vineyard ~ a field where people grow *grapes.

vision ~ something that a person sees, maybe only in their mind.

worship ~ to tell God (or a false god) that he is wonderful; and also, to tell him that you love him.

 

© 2009, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

September 2009

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